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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

286        HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

king had been the greatest power in France at the beginning
of the century, was ignominiously expelled in 1764. From this
time the process of disintegration went on apace, and twenty-five
years later the monarchy and the aristocracy shared the same
fate.

But though the Enlightenment was in the main a movement of
destruction, there grew out of it great constructive ideals that gave
promise of a new r6gime to take the place of the one that was
breaking down. The chief creator of these ideals was that strange
genius, Jean Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau, to begin with, had been
intimately associated with the Encyclopedists, but the temper of
his mind was such as to make the alliance only temporary. Even
before he actually broke with them, the Discourse on the Sciences
and the Arts with which he opened his literary career revealed the
difference between him and them. The Discourse was a rhetorical
tirade against all the institutions of civilized life, and to that
extent in accord with the spirit of the times; but it carried
scepticism deeper than the Encyclopedists had done by attacking
the very reason which they had glorified. According to Rousseau,
the source of all social evils is to be found in the restless curiosity
of which the sciences and arts are the final products. It would have
been far better, he implies, if man had been allowed to remain in
his primitive state as a creature of feeling and not permitted to
emerge into the self-torturing condition of rational man. Para-
doxical as was the depreciation of reason in a reasoned discourse,
it had the important effect of widening the area of revolt. So long
as the claim for freedom was only made on behalf of the cultured
class, most men were shut out from any chance of sharing in its
privileges. But with the view that the real nature of man is to be
found in sentiments common to all rather than in a reason re-'
stricted to the few, the protest against the authority that crushes
out individuality became widened out to include the great dumb
multitude hitherto excluded from culture. In effect, Rousseau
had re-discovered in the political sphere the great truth that Luther
had re-discovered in the religious—the worth of man as man;
and in his later writings, when he had purged himself of some of
the crudity of the negations that characterized the Discourse, he
set himself to work out his discovery constructively in new
political and educational ideals, which had implicit in them the
root principle of modern democracy. " Man," he said, in a